Monday, September 26, 2016

Leura, a town of gardens

As you probably know, we have been talking about moving permanently to Australia for years. Robin has described this as our 'hobby'. Whether she is right or not, the search has been the impetus for us to visit quite a few interesting places. Robin reckons the Blue Mountains should be on our list so we did a trip out there for another look at Leura.

We took the ferry to Circular Quay where another cruise ship had docked.

Daughter and mother in the seat ahead of me on the train out to Leura.

It's a two hour ride out there which gave me a good dose of 'train'o'mania'. It's a word I just made up but I think it describes my affliction pretty well.

I reckon one of the best indicators of the state of society in a country is the presence or absence of rubbish or trash beside the rails. The poorest countries are usually the least clean. The exception is the USA where the tracks are often lined with trash. Australian train tracks are usually very clean.

Graffiti is another matter.

There are now lots of high-rise buildings. Many people live in high rise apartments and most young people have realized that they will never be able to afford a house in Sydney unless they inherit one. The median price of a house in Sydney is approximately a million dollars.

The old shop at the junction station of Strathfield. Travelers often change trains here so it sells a selection of food and drinks.

An example of a new station.

We crossed the Nepean River just before the train started its climb to the mountains. The river flows along the western edge of Sydney and Central Station in Sydney is about fifty kilometers to the east. The river floods occasionally.

A couple of years ago, Sydney Transport brought in electronic Opal cards and did away with the old paper tickets. One effect of this has been to make our travel around Sydney by public transport much more expensive. We used to be able to get a $2.50 Seniors ticket, good for travel anywhere on the network for a whole day. The Seniors Opal card still charges only $2.50 per day but we are not eligible to get one because we do not have an Australian Medicare card.

However, everybody can travel anywhere on Sunday for a maximum of $2.50 and the trains were crowded.

The foothills of the Blue Mountains.

I was curious about these green objects scattered around. I have no idea what they are but I don't think I am going to lie awake at night worrying about them.

The train started its climb into the mountains. The route is quite narrow and the stations are often surrounded by lush vegetation.

Lush Aussie bush vegetation. It is all very flammable.

The area was famous for its hippy culture years ago. I suppose hippies are a thing of the past. And if you are curious, I was not a hippy. 

Part of a mural painted on a rock at a station exit.

More of the mural.

The impressive Blue Mountain Hotel in Lawson. The cool weather of the 2400' elevation made the area popular in the hot summer months.  

After the two hour train ride we got off at Leura which is at an elevation of 3200'. It was distinctly chilly compared to Sydney.

Signage is good at Sydney train stations.

We started to walk down the main street. I have been to Leura a few times over the years but not with a blog in mind and camera in hand. It was much busier than when I had been here on other occasions.

Plenty of shops selling stuff I would never buy.

I was glad we were walking around and not in a car fighting traffic.

Market at the Country Womens Association Hall. Inside there were tables set up where various craft objects were on sale. Behind each table was an older lady knitting and keeping an eye on things. Only one table had a male selling items and he did not have to knit.

The cafe where we had lunch. It was quite busy but the food was good.

Bush-fires are a real problem in the Blue Mountains and some houses are usually burned each year. 

We started walking away from the shopping part of town and immediately we were impressed by the old houses and the stunning gardens..

Because of the height above sea level, the town is cold enough to get four seasons. There can even be snow in winter. In late September, Spring had sprung.

Park across the street.

Most of these older wooden houses would have been very cold in winter when they were built because there would have been no or little insulation. Hopefully some insulation has installed since those times but I suspect most do not have double-paned windows that are common in America.

The roof could use some paint but the garden was well maintained.

Marianne and I have no talent as gardeners but we can appreciate what keen gardeners can achieve.

I really liked this wide veranda style house largely because I grew up in one.

It is difficult to credit that all of this is somebody's front yard.

Apparently this is a camellia which appeared to be the most common flower planted in the town.

This house would not be out of place in the USA.

A couple of beady eyes made sure we caused no trouble. The bird did not move even though I was only about four feet away.

We came to a view point across the mountains.

Cliffs. The early settlers could not find a way to cross these mountains and in 1813 an expedition led by Blaxland, Wentworth and Lawson finally found a way. The current road still follows much the same route.

Old benches from train stations.

We did not enter since we had only about 45 minutes to get back to the station to catch our train.

Supposedly a fine viewpoint but you have to pay. Go a few yards in either direction and you can see the same view.

Cute house. 

A more unusual modern house.

You could catch a glimpse of their view through the door.

A view point we had visited a few years ago.

We started our return to the station and proceeded along another back street.

Very unusual modern house.


Monument to the soldiers of WWI.

Perhaps all that we could afford would be this granny flat out the back.

Marianne was pleased to see some forsythia. Its blooms are one of the first signs of Spring in our neighbourhood in the USA.

It was an absolutely beautiful walk and we had only seen a small part of the town. There must be a bunch of very keen gardeners in Leura.

Another distinguished looking pub on the northern side of the railway line.

The train arrived on time and we managed to get seats despite it being quite packed. If you do this journey by train, travel in the 'quiet cars' which are the first and last carriages. Many of the passengers in our carriage were quite noisy on the return to Sydney.

It was a very interesting walk around Leura. It has gone onto our 'hobby' list.

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